Sexual Trauma and Recovery Services (STARS Dorset)  has been awarded a seven year contract to continue to provide its much needed  Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service across the county.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset is providing £170,000 a year for the charity to run the service, while NHS England will provide £35,000 a year. The new contract, which begins in April and runs until 2028, represents a significant investment in STARS Dorset and will enable the charity to continue its great work throughout Dorset.  Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) provide impartial and non-judgemental support and advice to survivors of sexual violence, helping them make informed choices while dealing with the aftermath of traumatic situations. They can support survivors who have reported to the police by helping them navigate the Criminal Justice System, as well as providing support for those who need to access other services such as health, housing, education, employment and benefits.

The charity’s ISVAs are person centred and client led and tailor support to individual needs, provide impartial information, ensure the safety of the survivor and any dependents, attend meetings and help develop a support plan with the client to address risks and identify support that is needed.

Survivors are able to meet with their ISVA face to face at STARS Dorset’s centres in Poole and Dorchester, as well as over the telephone or through remote sessions. Independent Sexual Violence Advisors work with adults and with children and young people and offer additional support to family members.  The team also has a full-time  male advisor funded by NHS England and holds nationally recognised Quality Standards for its support for male survivors.

Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “These are dedicated individuals who provide incredible emotional and practical support to people who have been through some of the worst experiences possible, and are living through situations where everything seems confusing and out of control.

“While it is incredibly sad that the service is so badly needed, I am proud to be supporting it and ensuring it can help more people across the county for the next seven years.”

Helen Stevens, CEO of STARS Dorset, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to deliver ISVA services throughout Dorset, following the public procurement process. 

“This opportunity will enable us to further develop the service over the next seven years, ensuring survivors of sexual violence in Dorset have access to the specialist support they need to enable their recovery.  We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the team at Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Shores, building on the already great partnership work that has been established between our two services.”

The Shores, Dorset’s Sexual Assault and Referral Centre provides specialist medical and forensic services for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted. Their hard work and passion for helping those in need have allowed G4S, who runs the service, to regain a seven year contract from NHS England following a successful bid process. Together STARS Dorset and The Shores will be able to continue to support survivors across the county. Further details about their service can be found at